Catholic church prolonging torture with inaction: Greg Stack

A St. John's lawyer representing sexual abuse victims has levelled serious allegations at the Roman Catholic Church after a United Nations anti-torture treaty was released last week.
Lawyer Greg Stack says the church is prolonging the ordeal of sexual abuse victims by intentionally dragging out the court process. (CBC)

A St. John's lawyer representing local sexual abuse victims says the Archbishop of St. John's hasn't done enough to help those victims, but Martin Currie says he's doing the best he can.

Lawyer Greg Stack of Stack and Associates, which has represented 80 victims of sexual abuse and has about 20 unsettled cases, levelled the allegations at the Roman Catholic Church and the local archbishop, after a United Nations anti-torture treaty was released last week.

In the treaty, a UN committee concluded that the Vatican has worldwide control over bishops and priests who must comply with the treaty.

Stack said the head of the church has the authority to settle cases but chooses not to, and St. John's Archbishop Martin Currie hasn't done enough to help the victims of the abuse.

"The church hasn't contested the fact of the abuse, so they know the boys were abused but still they're just dragging it out and dragging it out and making it horrendous for them, and this is equated in the UN report to torture," said Stack.

"It's a continuation of the offence. Where the torture part ends, I don't think it ends just with the physical acts. The UN definition provides for the mental anguish, as well, and the mental anguish is continued and is being continued by the present hierarchy. He's prolonging torture by keeping it open."

'Sometimes you wait'

Currie said there is a long process that comes along with these court cases, and there's nothing more he can do to speed it up.

Archbishop Martin Currie says the court system takes a long time, and there's nothing he can do to expedite the process. (CBC)
"I wouldn't use the word torture. That it's been prolonged is true, [but] there's nobody more than myself who would like to bring resolution to these," he said.

"I really don't know [why it takes so long]. All I can say is it's tied up in litigation, and with insurance companies and with the courts, and sometimes you wait."

Currie added cases presented today would be handled differently, but the older cases take longer because they date further back.

According to Stack, the church has conspired to prevent any settlement from happening in a timely manner, but Currie said that's simply not the case.

"I have no magic wand. I've tried, I'm trying to do the best I can, that's all I can do is the best I can [and] let this work its way through the system. That's all I can do now at this stage in the game," said Currie.

Currie said the church sympathizes with the victims on abuse, and hopes to reach some resolution soon.